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101  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / "Origins (Spinward Fringe Book 0)" by Randolph Lalonde. on: September 24, 2014, 07:22:56 PM

Mentioned the first (Book 0) in the Spinward Fringe series:
I rather enjoyed the Spinward Fringe book. Difficult to put down. Recommended!  Thmbsup
Now want to read the rest in the series...

I'd like to add to this a (my) brief review of that book:
"Origins (Spinward Fringe Book 0)" by  Randolph Lalonde.    Thmbsup

As a veteran SF addict, I am often highly critical of new SF works, but I consider this book to be, overall, a good and enjoyable SF read.
I obtained it for FREE in the Kindle version, and it was evidently intended as a sample of more to come  - i.e., in the rest of the series.
I purchased a Kindle really just to try it out - a "suck-it-and-see" exercise. I was skeptical as to whether it could be an adequate or full replacement for all aspects of conventional books.
However, in the case of the "Origins" story, if I had not had a Kindle, then I suspect that I would probably never have bothered reading the story (even if it were available) in hardcopy. This is arguably a new dimension that Amazon Kindle has introduced to the book-readers in the publishing market, and is likely to lead to encouraging results for new authors like Randolph Lalonde, and more business for Amazon - so a  thumbs up for Kindle books there.

To my surprise, I found the Origins book to be hard to put down, due to it's having a good plot, good progressive development of the characters in the story (though sometimes a bit abrupt with the odd leap here and there, but that kept things moving), and lots of action, a love interest (just right, not too much), etc. - all "ticks in the box". The book is based in a future time, but is plausible - including, for example, the new future's science and technology invented by the author.

I read the Afterword by the author, where he summarises some of the trials and tribulations that he encountered in producing this book and developing it into a viable series. Very interesting, and I wish him the best of luck. I think he probably has a winner.
As a result of reading this first book I intend to follow it up with the next in the series.
102  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Recommend some music videos to me! on: September 24, 2014, 04:04:36 AM
I like my jazz one of two ways:  Ultra-traditional or way-out-wacked.  Guess which one this is?
You like that?  More here -> http://www.youtube.com/user/LakeStreetDive
Thanks. That was rather good.
103  News and Reviews / Mini-Reviews by Members / Re: Tresorit - Secure, end-to-end encrypted Cloud storage service (FREE) on: September 23, 2014, 10:27:08 PM
Isn't Mega.co.nz supposed to be encrypted end-to-end?
There's also SpiderOak, which has been around for a long time.
Thanks for the suggestions.
I'm not sure whether they meet the suggested 2 essential security criteria, though I think MEGA probably does by now, if it didn't before.
I shall have to investigate and add them to the alternatives list anyway.
In light of @40hz's comments, it might be appropriate to review those two criteria and give them some more precise definition.
104  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Do we have any musical people on DC? on: September 23, 2014, 05:14:02 PM
I felt a bit reluctant/shy about writing this, but decided to come out with it.
Music runs in my family. My brothers and sisters were variously musically and even artistically inclined. Since I was the youngest, I was kind of brought up in music, and I've always been fascinated with music, starting in childhood, where at the age of 5 or 6 I recall I would sit for hours, totally absorbed in an almost trance-like state, playing notes and chords and humming them - playing with the harmonics - using my eldest sister's piano. She later went on to study the piano at the RAM (Royal Academy of Music), but was not good enough to go professional, so used to sometimes teach music.
I have this tendency to sense pattern all around me, and I go into these absorbed states when thinking about or doing something that involves pattern - including things such as, for example, listening to music (as above), listening to or playing the drums, meditating by using a mantra, analysing or solving a problem, washing walls, ski-ing, driving a car, riding a bike, and walking in the hills and mountains. I discovered many years later that autism and Asperger syndrome runs in the family - so that probably explains the fascination with pattern - and depression also apparently runs in the family. These things are apparently genetic and tend not to skip a generation, and are evident in my two eldest children. But these things were generally not properly appreciated or understood in those terms when I was younger. In retrospect, I think my whole family were/are probably what would be called "a bit odd" - i.e., eccentric.

Anyway, it turned out that my instrument was my voice, which my high school music teacher discovered when he was testing us for our singing ability prior to putting us (or not) into the school choir. Much to my music teacher's surprise and disappointment (I was probably one of his most useless and bored students in music theory), he found that I had been given the gift of perfect pitch. This was in North Wales (UK), and at about age 11½ I was conscripted into the choir as a soprano, and we sang at the school a lot - mostly in Welsh - and at the eisteddfod (an annual competitive festival of music and poetry held in Wales, UK), where we represented our school. I started to become proficient in sight-reading music and singing it, and loved listening to a good choir at work - e.g., the Welsh Male Voice Choir singing Ar Hyd Y Nos (All Through The Night) and the Welsh National Anthem - arguably one of the most beautiful anthems in the world. These pieces are always a pleasure to listen to or sing, and spine-tingling stuff, for me.

When I moved on to another secondary (high) school, I joined the choir there, and as I got older my voice dropped rapidly to tenor and then baritone, and then a bit lower, whereupon my vocal scope included first bass parts. By then my music sight-reading was more than adequate for my purposes, and, probably because I had had to become proficient in Welsh (my second language) I developed a natural facility with languages, which meant I could pick up a script written in one of several different European languages (as well as Latin) and sing/pronounce the words correctly whilst mostly understanding them as well (though I would probably be terribly rusty if I tried that today).

By the end of high school I had become quite good on the Spanish guitar, liked to sing and play country folk and western with it most, but was only ever at an elementary level, at best, on the piano. I had also learned to play the bugle at an early age (9 or 10 I think) after my mother bought home a rather beaten-up used copper army bugle from a junk shop, to hang on the wall as decoration. I became quite good with it, and so my eldest brother bought me a rather worn, dented old, but (I thought) beautiful, silver-plated trumpet from a second-hand junk shop as a birthday present.
I had to fix it and get it to work bang on key before it was playable, so there was much poring over the Enc.Britannica and other reference books in music, acoustics, string and wind instruments, and tuning, after which I established that I could also tune a piano. I was obliged to teach myself to play these instruments - never had any formal lessons. I think I really enjoyed the bugle best though. It's a difficult instrument to play but very satisfying to master - bloody well seems to fight you all the time though. It's also portable and can put up with being banged around a bit (dents can be quite easily removed from copper), so I would take it with me in my rucksack on my many expeditions into the Welsh hills. The bugle could belt out a really cracking good sound as you played it, echoing back at me from the surrounding hills and scattering nearby flocks of mountain sheep, which ran about in alarm, having never heard anything quite like it before.
I found the bugle could make a thrilling sound - it could be piercing, stimulating, poignant and quite beautiful - e.g., Reveille, or The Last Post. When played properly, the latter can send shivers down your spine. I'm not sure I ever managed to play it perfectly all the way through though!

It wasn't till I was about 22 or so, when I was lecturing with a large computer company and studying computing, that I accidentally got back into choir-singing. One lunchtime, I heard a manager in a nearby office singing something to himself quietly. Peeking through his open door, I saw that he was reading a score sheet, and I enquired what the music was. It turned out that he was rehearsing a tenor part and was in the LPC (London Philharmonic Choir). I was seriously impressed, because it was/is a highly reputable amateur choir (meaning you don't get paid anything - unlike a professional  - though they would cover your costs for a nominal amount for DJ hire to attend dress rehearsals and performances).
On discovering that I was interested in choral music, he asked me to sing a bit from his score sheet, after which he immediately said I should go for an audition with the choirmaster (who was somebody famous), at the auditions to be held the following week. Overawed by this, I gave him a raft of reasons why I shouldn't go, because I silently thought it farcical to even think that I could be up to the necessary standard for the LPC - and I certainly didn't think I was anywhere near the grade. My mind told me that a musician I was not.

The guy persisted and said that the best judge of my ability would be the choirmaster - not me - and that I could find myself involved in singing some of the most beautiful music created by man, and that I should at least give it a whirl as, "nothing ventured, nothing gained".
I told him that I didn't really want to go back into a choir, and didn't see the need for it, it would require my time, and I was too busy, etc.

He then asked me if I was married (no, I wasn't), if I had a girlfriend (no, I hadn't), and then he said "Well, then you do have the time, and there - right there - is a good reason for joining the LPC!"

My response was, "Eh? How so?"

He replied, "The social life man! We have 50-odd female voices - all emancipated women - about 30 sopranos and 22 altos, the majority of whom are relatively young, unattached, available, and not shy about showing it, and not only do they have beautiful voices but quite a few of them are physically very comely wenches! Furthermore, we have around 25 men/male voices - 15 tenors, 6 first bass, and 5 second bass. Most of them are married. We never have enough male voices! We have to hire in professionals to make up the numbers at our performances. We desperately need more basses, and you'd probably be a first bass voice, and if you could only fart on key you'd probably get through the audition! But look at the ratios and the green field you have with all those women - 52 of them, say 35 potentially unattached and available - and about 4 or 5 unattached blokes for competition, and all the men quite a bit older than you! Why wouldn't you want to be a male singer in that choir?

I always felt that being numerate, and having been trained in accountancy and statistics, I had an advantage when it came to addressing numerical problems, and when he ran those numbers past me, I immediately saw the direction I needed to take.
So that is how I joined the LPC, and I enjoyed it immensely.
Over the approx 3 years I was with them, we did quite a lot of performances. Several were recordings for the BBC, with orchestra and one or two additional choirs (sometimes the BBC's own choirs). We sang at different venues, the two most memorable for me were at:
(a) The Royal Festival Hall: where we came on first (I think it was some of Berlioz's Te Deum), with the second part being a solo performance by a highly acclaimed Japanese lady violinist, so I got to hear her superb performance for free when ordinarily I probably could not have afforded to go.

(b) The Royal Albert Halll: at the last night of the Proms, where we joined with two BBC female choirs, and with several hired/professional male singers to bolster the lower registers, and 2 or 3 professional soloists, and performed Brahms' Deutsches Requiem.
I had only ever watched the Proms on TV before that, and could not really afford tickets even when I lived in London. Being a Last Night, it had a vibrant and exciting atmosphere. The audience really appreciated and enjoyed the music we gave them, and they were out to have fun and made a party out of it, and our conductor played to them magnificently.
The Albert has a huge organ, with some of the biggest organ pipes I have ever seen - the lower registers being the biggest. I was situated close to the lowest register pipes on one side of the pipe array, about 10 feet from the very lowest. In Brahms' Deutsches Requiem, there's a bit where he's descending into Hell and the low register organ pipes come in, almost stepping down to the gloomy Hellish darkness below. The sound from those pipes sends out a bit of a percussion wave towards the listener, but I was close enough that not only could I not hear myself think, but also that I could not stay still, as the vibration was literally jiggling me up and down where I stood. I was grateful when that bit ended and the music became uplifting and ascended with him to Heaven, the sound of the triumphal heavenly trumpets coming from "The Gods" - the uppermost balcony where they had been positioned.

When I emigrated to Aotearoa, I sung with a quite well-rehearsed company choir just at Christmas-times, going round the corporate offices singing Christmas carols and collecting money for charity. I think I still have somewhere a VHS tape of me in this choir, wearing choir-robes, singing in the historic old St Pauls - a lovely old wooden church in Wellington. Being made of wood, it had great acoustics. I also have (or had) a cassette tape of me singing a solo in 1988 - an IT version of Gilbert & Sullivan's The Nightmare Song from Iolanthe. I copied this across to disk as best I could, some years back, but it's got a fair amount of noise and hum in it, though the voice part is still audible, if using headphones.
The Nightmare Song (computer).wav (Sorry about the quality.)
The Nightmare Song (computer) lyrics.txt

As to music that I like and enjoy singing, it is music that generally could be seen as reflecting something of all that is good about humanity: rhythm, fun, harmony, love, the expression of humour, pathos, happiness, joy, empathy, that speaks of the yearning for freedom from bondage, the yearning for peace and for the ascent of the human spirit, and that shows our ability to climb out - even if only temporarily - of the hideous, irrational religio-political ideological cesspits within which we can sometimes find ourselves imprisoned.
I think sometimes that we do not realise - or maybe we forget - what incredible beings we are and with what amazing potential. For me, music can be an expression - a communication - of this, and a reminder.
Here are two favourite examples - quite different - of such music, from the public domain:
Weird Al Yankovic - Don't Download This Song.mp3
Remember Me.swf

Update 2014-11-24: Yesterday I watched the start of the NZ v. Wales rugby match on TV, where they sang the national anthems of both teams. I experienced the same spine-tingling sensation again when they sung the Welsh National Anthem, and the crowd joined in. There's nothing quite like it.
105  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Funds for new film re Berlin Wall - Indiegogo fundraising ends Oct. 4, 2014 on: September 23, 2014, 09:00:18 AM
A new film "An Accidental Berliner" is apparently being made, with a New Zealand perspective, and I received the email below about it asking for contributions via Indiegogo.
Passing it on in case any DCF denizens might like to help.
We have a friend named Tony Forster, who was in East Berlin in 1989 on the night the Wall fell - and was just the third person to cross through Checkpoint Charlie to the West - to be greeted by thousands of people and the world's press on that historic night!

It was an extraordinary experience and he is now making a film about it - where he explores the impact of this event on himself and on Germans, both his own friends and numerous people he met at the 20th Anniversary and since. The film is almost complete, but Tony could do with a little bit of help.

Please take a few minutes if you can, and have a look at this website: 


- where you can watch a short video clip (about 3.5 minutes) – and see what you think.

It's a remarkable story worth telling and we, along with a number of others, have already helped a bit to get it to this stage. We are now  circulating this request on his behalf to help see it completed. . Every contribution, no matter how small, helps immensely.  If you want to, you can contribute anonymously.  And if you use the PayPal system, you can even invent a false name! - (apparently)

Our apologies if you think we may be stretching our connection with you to send a fundraising request - but these things only work if they are spread as widely as possible. So, we are just sending this off to everyone in our address book - friends, businesses, the lot - just to save time and spread it as widely as possible as quickly as possible. No targeting we assure you!! - this is a mass mail-out

But we will be even more presumptuous and suggest -  if you do know anyone who might be interested in assisting - please forward this email on to them.

Please Note: The Indiegogo crowd-funding site is in US$$ - so if you choose to help please allow that:   $10 US = about $12.50 NZ. (Sorry, they can only accept donations in US $) And note that Tony is offering various perks as well - check them out on the website.

And especially Please Note - the Fund Raising Campaign finishes strictly on October 4th !!!

Thanks for reading,
106  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Looking for a new Anti-Virus and need you guys to help! on: September 23, 2014, 08:11:27 AM
I have to agree with Iain on these points. Turn on Defender at least for now, and worry about specifics later.
To be more specific, I think the user of a new Win8 laptop will find that Windows Defender is "On" by default, but the AV component (formerly MSE) is what seems to get fully disabled by the OEM AV proggy install, leaving just the Windows Defender Firewall component enabled.

This confused me greatly at first, as I was previously unaware that Defender had been made a consolidation of the two components in Win8.    embarassed

What I noticed in my case was that whilst Norton/Symantec AV was persistently nagging (nagware) the user to buy the software as it was "at the end of trial period", the user was blocked from enabling the Windows Defender AV component, until the OEM AV product was completely uninstalled/expunged. That would be unlikely to have been accidental. I consider it to be sharp practice. That sort of thing really gets my goat and is just one more reason for my loathing Norton/Symantec AV - which otherwise is an excellent AV ($PAID) product, as far as I am aware.
107  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Looking for a new Anti-Virus and need you guys to help! on: September 23, 2014, 07:47:54 AM
Ah, here it is. I knew I'd seen something that had already been way down this path before: GEGeek - a whole new IT category index discovered in The Library of Utopia

The relevant link is in the GEGeek section You're Infected ?: Antivirus⁄Mal ware. A veritable mine of information at that link.

Sorry for not coughing this up sooner, but I got sidetracked and have been rather preoccupied with some urgent work.
108  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Excel thingy... Tip for using OFFSET() function to restrict a droplist. on: September 23, 2014, 05:23:12 AM
Ah, I see why you use it now. Yes, of course.
I just might have a use for it actually. I may be required to develop a person lookup for an Excel database of a few thousand members of an alumni group that was set up a few years back and has now grown quite large.
109  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Movies or films you've seen lately on: September 22, 2014, 12:04:44 PM
...C.S. Lewis has been one of my favourite authors for a very long time. His Christian apologetics never venture into the territory of being nasty or cruel or anything of the sort. He's simply one of the finest authors to have ever lived. Our love of the Narnia chronicles is a testament to his skill.

Amusingly I only knew him mainly for The Screwtape Letters and his sci-fi trilogy which I think I read at about age 12 or so:
  • Out of the Silent Planet
  • Perelandra - Voyage to Venus
  • That Hideous Strength

I had not studied him, and it was years later that I registered that he was an atheist who had converted to Christianity, and who was also the author of the Good v. Evil themed series - The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Narnia, etc.
I was intrigued and wanted to understand and find out how his reasoning stood up to his religious conversion. It seemed like he would have been a most unlikely candidate for conversion. That's when I read his Surprised By Joy and other essays.
He's a person I would have liked to have met in real life.
110  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Reader's Corner - The Library of Utopia on: September 22, 2014, 11:06:42 AM
Eh? Um, yes, I kinda understood that the physical records had not been deleted...I mean, it was quite clearly the case that they hadn't been deleted, wasn't it?
I used the word "forensic" advisedly - as in "forensic data analysis".
"Access", you say?
I didn't really consider that access was likely to be a major issue - a temporary inconvenience, yes.
You see, I was/am curious to know, if/when the data is restored, how one would be able to verify with absolute certainty that all has been restored exactly as it was before.

Oh, never mind.

Still, it looks like good news, nonetheless.
111  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Movies or films you've seen lately on: September 22, 2014, 09:18:57 AM
After coaching my daughter in her maths homework, I sat up late reading on my own and did some TV Channel-hopping - simultaneously watched some overlapping late-night Sunday TV suspense movies out of interest (everyone else was in bed so I had the con and could scroll the channels to my heart's content).
My perceptions:
Poison Ivy: The Secret Society (2008)
  • Badly produced.
  • Poor acting.
  • Flimsy and confusing plot/story.
  • Bad points somewhat alleviated by some occasionally nice flashes of attractive mammary glands.
  • A seemingly pointless movie (or possibly too subtle for me to see the point).

The Dark Knight Rises (2012):
  • Really good interpretation and dramatisation of the classic comic character.
  • I thought it had a good plot and story-line, with all the right bits to keep the viewer's attention, even though I had seen this movie before.
  • Well-acted parts.
  • Some quite good bits of gratuitous violence.
  • Watch-able, though a bit formulaic.

Quarantine (2008)
  • Very poor plot and acting.
  • Amateur doco-style camera-control induced motion sickness and was also distracting and annoying.
  • Deadly boring and predictable.
  • Switched it off and went back to reading my $FREE SF story on Kindle instead: Origins (Spinward Fringe Book 0) by Randolph Lalonde.

I rather enjoyed the Spinward Fringe book. Difficult to put down. Recommended!  Thmbsup
Now want to read the rest in the series...
112  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Movies or films you've seen lately on: September 22, 2014, 08:22:16 AM
...What's even more surprising is AC since then. Along with Dave Mustaine of Megadeth, Brian Welch of Korn, Nicko McBrain of Iron Maiden, and Dan Spitz of Anthrax, and Blackie Lawless of WASP, they have all converted to Christianity. THAT bit in a documentary I would like to see.

Impressive - I hadn't known about that - though perhaps these were not as spectacular conversions as the academic and atheist C.S. Lewis' self-conversion to Christianity:
"The most dejected, reluctant convert in all England" C.S. Lewis in Surprised By Joy.

Interestingly he did not convert to RC though.
113  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: silly humor - post 'em here! [warning some NSFW and adult content] on: September 22, 2014, 07:50:03 AM
My 12½ y/o daughter sent me this link. It's actually got some interesting and some funny stuff there on that site.
114  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / US courts agree to restore 10 years of deleted online public records (PACER) on: September 22, 2014, 06:38:13 AM
Some good news!
When I first read about 10 years worth of online public records being deleted in the US, as a result of an upgrade to a computer database known as PACER, I was dumbfounded - simply couldn't understand it.
To make some sense of it, I figured that maybe someone had to have a real powerful reason for rewriting history by scrubbing those records, and I wondered what morsels of skulduggery a forensic search of them might have shown up in that regard. Something to hide, maybe? I mean, after Watergate, the government (IRS) must have surely set the modern precedent for deleting large amounts of inconvenient data, apparently to conceal evidence of state skulduggery.

It evidently wasn't all the US lawmakers who wanted this material expunged from online access though, since they were also apparently the group that objected to it the most - and hence the reversal by the US courts (bureaucracy?), those bastions of constitutional support and truth.
(Copied below sans embedded hyperlinks/images.)
US courts agree to restore 10 years of deleted online public records | Ars Technica
The restoration comes after pressure from lawmakers infuriated over the purging.
by David Kravets - Sep 19, 2014 9:35 pm UTC

The US bureaucracy agreed Friday to restore a decade's worth of electronic federal court documents that were deleted last month from online viewing because of an upgrade to a computer database known as PACER.

The move by the Administrative Office of the Courts, first reported by The Washington Post, comes amid a fierce backlash from lawmakers who urged it to restore the data that is among the few methods of delivering court documents to the public. It's a paid service, costing 10 cents a page, and has long been criticized as a deeply dated system that already does too little and charges too much for online access to things like judicial orders and court briefs.

To be restored are, combined, about a decade's worth of court dockets and all manner of documents at the US Courts of Appeals for the 2nd, 7th, 11th, and Federal Circuits, as well as the Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California.

At the time of the purging, the agency said that those records were maintained on "locally developed legacy case management systems" and weren't compatible to be culled into the new PACER system being built.

The deleted records are available for physical viewing at their respective courthouses in New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC. The bulk of them should be available on PACER by the end of October.
115  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Looking for a new Anti-Virus and need you guys to help! on: September 22, 2014, 02:29:53 AM
The OP (opening post) says: (my emphasis)
I had McAffee pre-installed on the new laptops and now they have run out of their free trial...so I have uninstalled them because I don't have the funds to pay for it...so I am looking for a good free alternative...I used to swear by AVG but not sure if it is still worth it!
So...What do you guys think?  I currently have no AV installed, but do have MalwareBytes installed on both laptops and am using Windows Firewall for both in the meantime (As well as a router level firewall).

My general thoughts are these:
  • There are several possible and perfectly good alternatives for $FREE AV (Anti-Virus) products in the market.
  • I have probably trialled approx. 80% of what is available in that regard, and they all have their good and bad points.
  • The OP seems to be asking for advice as to what to do in a specific situation where a $FREE AV is required for new laptops, and where the OEM installed AV had been McAffee (now at end of free trial).
  • What is "good" or "bad" about AV software product alternatives is not necessarily an advantage or criticism of the AV software per se, since it will generally depend on one's individual requirements criteria and the extent to which the AV software meets those requirements.
  • One generally does not know what one's requirements for AV are until one has had the experience of a "suck-it-and-see" of some of the alternatives, which helps one to formulate one's requirements.
  • From experience, there seems to be no definitively "best" AV product, since (as above) the requirements criteria would generally need to be used to establish suitability and fitness-for-purpose in any given case.
  • The case for AV requirements will tend to differ not only between large organisational networks (e.g., corporate WANs), but also between smaller user-group networks.
  • Win8 OEM installs generally include a third-party proprietary AV product on "limited free trial", because the OEM gets a $commission for doing so.
  • This is despite the fact that Win8 comes with a Firewall (the Microsoft Firewall) and AV (MSE - Microsoft Security Essentials) already bundled as discrete, integrated components, consolidated into the Microsoft Windows Defender product.
  • The AV bundled in the OEM install takes priority in the system and the MSE product is necessarily disabled. This is not done for the advantage of the user/buyer of the laptop, but (as above) for financial gain - $commission - for the OEM.
  • Not having an AV product running on a laptop or other computer that is likely to be connected to the Internet (or to other computers that may or may not be so connected), opens up one's system to potentially serious, but largely avoidable risk of computer virus infection.
  • This risk will generally be  time-related - i.e., the longer the risk is there (the longer the window of opportunity for a virus threat is left open), the greater the chance of the potential risk occurring.

This is not a time to procrastinate. As a paranoid, I would therefore strongly recommend that, if you do not have an AV product on the laptops, then install any one of the more popular $FREE products ASAP, and worry about whether it is the "best" one for you at some later point - when you are (say) better able to define/articulate your requirements criteria.

The reason I described MSE (Microsoft Security Essentials) as a "no-brainer" is that, in Win8, once you have expunged McAffee/Norton/Symantec or whatever was in the OEM install, it will not take more than 30 seconds to go to Defender via the Control Panel, enable the AV component (MSE), and for MSE to set about updating itself (the AV "engine") and downloading the latest virus signature database. From memory, this may not even require a restart of the PC/laptop.
The important thing is to close the risk "window" ASAP. The quickest route to there in Win8 is to enable MSE, as described. Any other approach is likely to take longer and thus prolong the risk exposure - a risk which I was acutely aware of in my own situation (similar to the OP).

Whatever $FREE AV you end up using, do make sure that the OEM installed AV is expunged first though, as it may otherwise leave hooks deeply embedded in the OS and Registry, which could interfere with another AV product's successful installation/operation (QED). This seems to be especially so in the case of Norton/Symantec (for which there is even a special removal tool, discussed elsewhere in this Forum - since the AV product is highly tenacious and persistent, almost like a malware/adware/virus in itself).    mad

For expunging:
In the link I gave in a comment above, I used RevoUninstaller on setting 4 or 5 to scrub Norton/Symantec from the system, and then CCleaner to delete all the obsolete references to Norton/Symantec in the Registry, and search Everything to locate and delete all residual files/folders relating to Norton/Symantec in the file system.

After this you can trial $FREE MSE and all the other $FREE alternative AVs to your heart's content. Sorry I cannot suggest which might be "the best" though, and I don't engage in "pissing contests" about AV or other software. It is a pointless exercise since we all have different (and often unspoken/unarticulated) requirements criteria. "One man's meat is another man's poison".    embarassed

Hope this helps or is of use.    smiley
116  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Looking for a new Anti-Virus and need you guys to help! on: September 21, 2014, 05:54:41 AM
New laptops? If they are using the Win8 or 8.1 OS, then Windows Defender includes Firewall and MS Security Essentials (already fully integrated and at no extra charge). You just need to enable it after expunging McAffee.
See also: Experiences of using Win8-64, updating to Win8.1, then upgrading to Win8.1 PRO.

Otherwise, if Win7, then download MS Security Essentials by itself from MS website, for $FREE. It's sort of a no-brainer really.
117  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Interesting "stuff" on: September 21, 2014, 05:39:59 AM
That cyclist incident is an incredible shot. He looks like he may have injured his right arm (or the sleeve cloth is just torn). He must have been impacted by some thing(s) - at least a bit - at some stage, but soo lucky. The front wheel of the bike seems to have copped a blow, probably spinning him around anti-clockwise by the look of it.
Is there any info about his condition afterwards?
118  Special User Sections / N.A.N.Y. 2012 / Re: NANY 2012 Pledge & Release: Image Grid on: September 20, 2014, 11:18:22 AM
As a result of reading this:
For combination of many images, or for combining images into grids (as opposed to rows or columns) see the excellent standalone free tool "ImageGrid" made by dc member vlastimil: http://www.donationcoder....m/index.php?topic=29464.0
- I would just like to say that I downloaded ImageGrid out today, purely for a test/trial, and this is how it went:

The task was to take 10 images, in 10 sequentially numbered .JPG files, which were segments of a larger image, and stick them together to replicate the larger image.
  • STEP 1: Run ImageGrid.
  • STEP 2: Select the 10 image files and drag and drop them onto the ImageGrid canvas. (Required no rearranging.)
  • STEP 3: Save the composite image as a file.
  • Time taken: Not more than 10 seconds.
  • Result: Worked a treat.    Thmbsup Thmbsup Thmbsup Thmbsup Thmbsup

Rather impressive bit of software, that. One of those tools that you may rarely need, but will probably have great difficulty finding when you do need it.
There are some alternatives given in the post referred to above: Combine Multiple Images In A Single Canvas Using Image Grid:
If not this, then try these free software to join photos.
- but I haven't tried them out.
119  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Excel thingy... Tip for using OFFSET() function to restrict a droplist. on: September 20, 2014, 10:20:26 AM
Thanks! That's rather nifty if you need to set up (say) an efficient data input form for a user.
Otherwise I would usually use Tables and Filters nowadays.
Hmm, but I wonder whether you could use Regex in there...    smiley
Excel is a pretty powerful tool.
120  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: How to repair zip files? on: September 19, 2014, 09:03:05 AM
@Edvard: Those were anomalous instances and not repeatable. I could be wrong, of course, but that's what I was trying to point out in my earlier comment - i.e., that this thread is about something (an error or a fix for an error) that doesn't happen under normal circumstances, or isn't actually required, and which couldn't be mitigated or repaired if it occurred anyway.

In other words, there is likely to be no need to repair .ZIP files, as you would probably only get damaged ZIP files from an irreversible anomalous and non-repeatable) event, and due to the simple structure of .ZIP files, you will be unlikely to be able to recover/repair/reconstruct the lost/corrupted data - you couldn't "magic" the data out of nowhere.
121  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Peer Review and the Scientific Process on: September 17, 2014, 03:20:08 AM
This looks like a novel idea. It's an opinion article proposing the criminalising of "serious scientific misconduct" (awaiting legal definition...) in New Scientist. Not all a bad idea, I would have thought.
I am surprised that NS are publishing this though, as they have over the years arguably published their share of scientific garbage and some of it might have fitted into the awaited definition of SSM.
Hmm. Mind you, if SSM were criminalised, then NS would presumably be blameless...ahhh, I see now. Cunning plan. All care and no responsibility?
(Copied below sans embedded hyperlinks/images.)
It's time to criminalise serious scientific misconduct - opinion - 15 September 2014 - New Scientist
    15 September 2014 by Rachel Nuwer

Research misconduct degrades trust in science and causes real-world harm. As such, it should be a crime akin to fraud, argues Richard Smith

Why should research misconduct be illegal?
After 30 years of observing how science deals with the problem, I have sadly come to the conclusion that it should be a crime, for three main reasons. First, in a lot of cases, people have been given substantial grants to do honest research, so it really is no different from financial fraud or theft. Second, we have a whole criminal justice system that is in the business of gathering and weighing evidence – which universities and other employers of researchers are not very good at. And finally, science itself has failed to deal adequately with research misconduct.

How can we recognise honest mistakes?
It's quite difficult. Clearly not every minor misconduct should be regarded as a crime. And as with all laws, it will take time to establish what merits prosecution and what can be dealt with by a reprimand. But we know peer review doesn't detect all misconduct. If research seems wrong or impossible, we start with the assumption that it's just an honest mistake and then look into it. You can sometimes detect fraud statistically, because if you invent data you tend to come up with a recurrent pattern. But in most cases, it is detected because somebody blows a whistle.

Are there cases in which you think researchers should have been prosecuted?
There are cases where someone demonstrated intent, not simply made a horrible mistake. For example, I was involved in the case of a researcher named Malcolm Pearce, who published two papers in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. One was a case report of successfully re-implanting an ectopic pregnancy into a patient's womb and another was a randomised trial about treating recurrent miscarriage. It turned out the case study patient did not exist, and there was also no record that he had actually conducted this randomised trial. Those aren't honest errors. The facts speak for themselves.

Does scientific misconduct often cause real social harm?
To begin with, there is the loss of confidence in science. But another example of clear, obvious harm is the infamous MMR-vaccine paper by Andrew Wakefield that was published in The Lancet. It suggested that the vaccine was a cause of autism, and that idea absolutely took off, causing dramatic drops in childhood vaccinations. This in turn caused outbreaks of diseases such as measles. Eventually, when claims in the paper were proven to be false, The Lancet retracted it.

These types of things often ruin researchers' careers. Is that punishment enough?
There are many examples in which researchers have simply carried on with their careers. I believe scientists should be held to a higher standard. Those who commit research misconduct cannot be trusted. It's too easy to be tempted into ignoring or destroying data that undermines your work. It may seem an inhuman way to be, but a true scientist is delighted when his or her favourite hypothesis is destroyed by good data.

This article appeared in print under the headline "Lawless labs no more"

Richard Smith edited the BMJ from 1991 to 2004. He is a founding member of the Committee on Publication Ethics, a former trustee of the UK Research Integrity Office and author of The Trouble with Medical Journals (CRC Press, 2006)
122  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: How come @Stephen66515 keeps posting here about stuff that gets expunged? on: September 15, 2014, 08:05:11 AM
@Stephen66515: Ah, I think I understand now. Sorry to have seemed critical of you - it was really the action of self-censorship that I was critical of, not you per se.

I consider you made a very positive and potentially uplifting set of statements in that deleted OP, and deleting it was our loss.
I also realised that the negative contra views, whilst they may have been making some valid points (I don't know), were off-topic and likely Basement material.
I saw the need to enable the various flows of thought/discussion without losing the potential of your spontaneously positive and beautiful affirmation of the human life and spirit.

Sorted now, and thankyou for your uplifting comments.
123  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Thoughts in remembrance of 911 on: September 15, 2014, 07:40:03 AM
I am not an American, but I have a feeling of empathy with America, because it is the source where some great minds forged the American Constitution - arguably the first major - if not finest - product of a free people, articulating the vision of their religio-political ideology for democracy, equality, freedom and liberty, and itself based on the foundation stone of the Magna Carta.
Many people might no doubt consider that America has arguably got a long to way to go before it can be seen to have achieved that vision, and others might no doubt consider that America has arguably already strayed too far off course to be able to return to the original vector.

Be that as it may, we should not forget those war-dead innocents who have died because of deliberately murderous acts of war, from other powers - whatever the reason, though the reason in this case seems to be that they would challenge the articulated vision of the American religio-political ideology.
Nor should any freedom-loving people be afraid to stand up and honour such innocent dead, in remembrance.

A people that cannot bring itself to honour and remember the war dead - whether they be dead soldiers and participants, or (as in the case of 911) a few thousand dead, innocent civilians massacred all together on the same day - would arguably be a God-forsaken and spiritually bankrupt people without any moral compass whatsoever. This is why the names of the dead are precious, and are faithfully listed on war graves - similarly on the memorial at Ground Zero, and the names of the terrorists who also died are apparently included - "Lest we forget".

When I started this thread, I was impressed with the way in which the mostly thoughtful discussion proceeded to develop in directions that I could hardly have predicted - not that I wished to see it proceed in any particular direction - and reviewing the thread today, I think it does great credit to the contributors to the thread on the DC Forum.
When I started this thread, my motivation was essentially, as @JavaJones put it:
...To me the most important thing is that those who died on 9/11 are honored and remembered in positive ways.
- Oshyan

I had held back from making any comment in memoriam of 911 this year, as I felt that someone else might want to do it, and so I was very pleased when they did - with this kind, thoughtful and rather beautiful statement: (please note that the link below is broken as the original poster self-censored the entire thread)
[quote from: stephen66515]
13 Years
13 Years ago, billions of people around the world went to sleep, completely unaware that life as we knew it was about to change.

Hundreds of people packed their bags for destinations they would never reach.

Thousands fell asleep with a loved one they would never see again.

A moment almost everybody can tell you what they were doing when it happened.

A moment of unity.

A moment the world breathed a breath of sadness as one.

A moment of darkness.

A moment of change.

A moment that would embed itself into the history of nightmares.

So, take this moment, the one right now, while you are reading this...to love the ones you love.  Tell them.  Be with them. And never forget.
Nobody knows what tomorrow may bring, so live each day like it is your last and take everything as it comes.


To me, those thoughts by @stephen66515 would seem to be well in line with:
...honored and remembered in positive ways.
- Oshyan

Apparently, @stephen66515 was not asked to delete the thread - he self-censored it because of a vitriolic response posted by another person, and he was afraid that it would start a flame war and disgrace the Forum, or something.
I have posted this here because I insist that I and others be allowed to see this genuine, creditable and incredibly positive post by @stephen66515 for what it is - something spontaneously affirming the human life and spirit and which touches us all - and I refuse to allow fascists or the PC brigade to deny people the opportunity to get some upliftment from the whole sorry episode of 911 whenever such an opportunity may arise, such as this.

Therefore, I would request that, if anyone of whatever religio-political ideological persuasion feels inclined to vomit their personal and peculiar negativism, vitriol, bile, hatred, theories or strongly-held opinions on this matter, or otherwise defecate on it in some way, could they please refrain from doing so here and do it in the Basement thread: 911 HATE - hate what you hate or what others like or dislike about it.

(Don't worry, they have a toilet down in the Basement too, if you can't seem to stem the flow once you get started, but please bring your own toilet paper.)
124  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: How come @Stephen66515 keeps posting here about stuff that gets expunged? on: September 14, 2014, 03:05:39 AM
It wasn't about what I said that made me want to remove it...it was about how a certain member of DC acted and I felt that it would be better for the community as a whole if a complete flame war didn't erupt...which that thread could have very easily started.

Coincidentally, this was also the sort of point I was making to @Stephen66515 in another thread in the Living Room, where he had made a genuinely kind and apolitical post and then succumbed to an aggressive outburst in response from another DCF member and so nervously censored his own post, thereby restricting his own speech and unwittingly making of himself a victim of, and submitting to, another's strongly-held opinions. Much as I detest the act of censorship and self-censorship, I detest the action of opinionated bullying and victimisation even more.
125  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: How come @Stephen66515 keeps posting here about stuff that gets expunged? on: September 13, 2014, 05:31:52 PM
Although...saying that...I don't recall any others being deleted recently (Except one which I requested to be deleted because it was supposed to be a nice memorial post on 9/11 and it instantly got hit with anti-government stuff and I wasn't comfortable having that here on DC...in the Basement is fine...but the way it was portrayed by the person commenting meant it would have caused a lot of heated tempers) smiley
Yes, that was the thread I read, and I thought you had saved me the trouble of doing something similar - I always like to remember the lives of innocent people that have been taken by murderers of varying religio-political ideology.
I am surprised that you took that down. It was apolitical as far as I could see. You probably need to grow a stronger spine, mate.
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